If You Look Like a Demon, Don't Bother Asking for Directions

Factories along the northern quarter of the city for the production of goods like cloth, brewed ale, and construction materials. An old water-wheel provides power for half the city.
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Lylessa Uluki
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If You Look Like a Demon, Don't Bother Asking for Directions

Post by Lylessa Uluki » Fri Jul 20, 2007 5:07 pm

((NPC Post))

Zee wasn't sure how long she had been walking, but she was pretty sure she was very, very lost. She hadn't really heeded Rollick's warning about not straying too far. After all, Zee had an uncanny ability to know where north was. She rarely had any trouble with directions.

Unfortunately, knowing which way north is does not help much in a strange city. Zee could still point to north, but wasn't sure if the infirmary her parents had been taken to lay in that direction or to the south, east, or west. She'd become thoroughly turned around.

Zee had tried to ask for help, but the local residents had seemed afraid of her. Before she'd gotten close enough to ask her question, they'd quickly shuffled away. She didn't understand why they were so unwilling to talk to her.

Martin was sleeping in her arms. She'd calmed him down, giving him water to drink and feeding him crushed berries from her pocket. He had stopped fussing, and decided to rest again. The chaotic day seemed to have made him quite tired.

Zee was starting to worry, and she knew her parents and Dash would also be worried about her and her baby brother. She patted Martin and told him it was going to be alright, though the reassurance was more for her own benefit.

How had she managed to wander so far...?
Last edited by Lylessa Uluki on Mon Jul 23, 2007 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Sun Jul 22, 2007 4:29 pm

Come the first light, Darir and Triarius were out in their new territory. Not patrolling as such, since such a duty would pretty pointless at present, more exploring. It made good sense to become familiar with the surrounding area of their hall and fortalice.

Normally Triarius would remain with Metellus, although with his injuries it was deemed best to leave him at base under heavy guard. A 700-pound guard to be precise, although precisions was not one of the qualities of said guard. Next to no one had come through this area, apparently for a long time, as the streets and buildings were quite obviously deserted.

And walking along, next to nobody, was a strange-looking woman carrying a small figure in her arms. Seeing others in such deserted quarters merited attention, and at least a passing interest.

Blond hair does very little to conceal night black horns, and closer inspection discovered bizarre inhuman coloured eyes, a mixture of golden and orange. Detracting from the beauty of her face were tapered fangs that any vampire would be proud of. Combined with her seductive figure, there was more than a touch of the infernal in her features.

As for the figure in her arms, it was quite obvious what that was. A baby! The blue skin was rather odd, but Triarius and Darir had taken the Oath of Valour, and there was no way that either would leave a small child in the grasp of a demoness.

So they approached, quite calmly at first, although with a small space apart, to allow them to more easily flank their target. Once very near, little more than reaching distance, they stepped to opposite sides of her to cover any escape, and signalled with a nod that now was the time to draw their weapons.

An axe came from a loop in the dwarf's belt, and the man drew a mid-length sword, pointing with it menacingly.

"Stop right there, demon." ordered the human, a swarthy-skinned man with short hair, garbed in a stout metal breastplate with shoulder pieces attatched by hinges, as well as metal pieces covering his shins and forearms, and a hinged metal skirt over his upper legs. Those with any familiarity with the Empire would recognise this as an Imperial design of armour.

Reinforcing that was a comment from the other one, a short fellow with stout limbs who seemed even more heavily armoured than his comrade. This one was wearing full solid steel, which appeared to interlock in places. The limbs were interlocked, and the torso was made of joined metal pieces, but they did not connect with each other. Attatched to one arm appeared to be portable steel wall, near the same size as the dwarf himself. "We be taking ye back to base, and ye can tell us what fate ye had in store for that poor child."

One thankful feature of the position of their weapons was that they were clearly held away from the child itself.
Last edited by Lightswords on Sun Jul 22, 2007 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:05 pm

((NPC Post))

Zee was at first relieved to see the two men. She hadn't seen anyone else in some time, and she was now sure she was not only lost but had wandered very far from her parents.

The littler man was even shorter than Zee's mother, which was saying something, but was more than double Uluki's size when his muscle mass was taken into account. Zee figured he must be quite strong. The other one was taller, though still a bit shorter than Zee, and wore a type of armour Zee had never seen before. They looked capable and confident, and like they wouldn't be mean. Surely they would be able to tell her how to get back to her parents.

She smiled her most winning smile at them-- meaning her fangs were prominently displayed. Zee moved to join them and prepared to make a friendly greeting, when they yelled at her to stop, and called her a demon... then pulled their weapons on her.

She wasn't sure exactly what demons did, but she knew they were mean. Why did these people think she was bad? They didn't even know her. Zee was confused and offended. She wasn't sure she liked this city much, where people threatened you with swords and axes just for asking for directions.

"I'm not doing anything bad to the baby. He's my brother." She didn't pause to consider how unlikely that sounded.

"My mother and father let me hold the baby. They know I take good care of him. I'm half-human and half-fae." That was right, wasn't it? She'd been adopted, so it must be true.

The men seemed pretty serious, with their weapons trained on her. They weren't threatening the baby... yet... but that might be the next step if Zee refused to cooperate. She wouldn't let anything bad happen to Martin.

"We'll go with you if you want, but don't hurt us, alright?"

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Sun Jul 22, 2007 5:45 pm

Never mind strange, none of this made any sense.

For the brieftest of instants both warriors exchanged glances, surely a The Deceivers could come up with more plausible stories than that. This one was blatantly rediculous. "I don't know of fae with horns and fangs." fired the taller of the two. "And there isn't a resemblance between you two. Is that the best story you can come up with?" he asked incredulously, although checking himself and stopping short of a sneer. Although a fiend would be considered the enemy, he remembered his oath, and that cruelty was forbidden by it.

Yet the dwarf, for all his flinty features, was slightly moved by her reaction. Us she said. Apparently she actually cared for the baby. While he did not believe her for an instant, he did not want to be acting like one who was a threat to an innocent child. "Hurt ye? Tha child be safe now. We make sure no harm comes ta him. Taking ye back is tha first step wit' that." Much like Triarius did before him, Darir stopped there. If this was an enemy, then there would be battle. If not, there was no reason to be unkind.

"This way." announced the man, both of them at her flanks. Weapons were held ready but not raised. No further threat was made. Actually, they were not far from their base, since only the area immediately around it had been explored. Little more than a block away, in fact.

Still, the dwarf had his own contribution to make. "Harm tha child, and ye die right away, fiend. We take ye back ta our lord so he can decide what to do aboot ye."

Presuming no resistance, they guided her, not leading as that would leave her behind them and able to flee. Eventually, they led her to a small cluster of buildings in an otherwise clear space. Standing out was a main building three stories high, with the third story narrowing with the roof. Nearby were two other large shelters, one had scattered remains of rotten wood there.

Approaching the larger building, the taller man called out. "My lord! You need to see this!"

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:03 am

((NPC Post))

Of course Zee put up no resistance. She had no desire to cause trouble, or to get stabbed with their weapons. She didn't want to give them a reason to hurt her.

She wasn't sure what to think of these men. Neither had harmed Zee or Martin, and the shorter one had, at least for a moment, seemed slightly sympathetic. But then right after that he'd called her "fiend," and said his lord would decide what to do with her. That meant she wasn't safe. That meant they might still kill her. At least they didn't seem to want to harm Martin.

But they still acted like they were afraid she would...

Zee didn't know how to answer their questions. She was confused. Of course she knew she didn't look like the baby, but she didn't look like Dash either. Her mother didn't look anything like her father. Why did families have to look alike?

Instead of trying to answer, to say something else they wouldn't believe, maybe make them angrier, she simply shrugged helplessly and went along with them. What else could she do?

Zee patted Martin's back gently, trying to hide her fear from him. She hoped this "lord" would be nice to them. She hoped she'd see the rest of her family again soon. And of course, she hoped she wasn't about to die.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:43 am

After a few moments of waiting, a steel clad man emerged from the entrance to the main building. On his arms were joined sheets of shaped steel, and on his torso appeared to be dozens of pointed scales linked together to form body armour. Under his arm was a curved war helm, and at his belt were both a sword and dagger.

Thankfully, however, both weapons stayed on his belt as he approached, gazing at Zee with a sort of confused appraisal, as if he did not fully understand what was in front of him. How he regarded her was more gentle than the other two. It took him a moment to realise that his two men were keeping her under armed guard. While approaching, he cocked his head as if listening for something that the others could not hear.

Considering the matter, he would still prefer to address the newcomer directly, but would step wrong unless he knew more of the situation from his men, so he looked towards them, bidding them to speak.

The taller soldier spoke first, "We found this demon carrying the boy, lord, and decided to bring her back before she did something to him. And for you to decide where to bring the baby once the fiend is dead."

"Not so fast, Triarius." answered the commander, holding up his hand to resemble a barrier. "There is no taint on the lady." he stated, giving a polite nod towards Zee, one which probably contrasted with her dire situation. "I can find no evil in her heart."

Then the dwarf spoke up, "She said tha baby is her brother, that her mother and pappy let her hold him. And she is half-fae."

"Thank you, Darir." replied the lord, who seemed to be no older than Zee herself. "I am Aorle. Perhaps you should tell me your story. What is your name? And the child?" Again, the courteous nod, "Who are your parents?"

His voice was gentle, almost kind.
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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:05 am

((NPC Post))

Zee made a soft noise almost like a squeak when she heard the words "Once the fiend is dead," but she relaxed when the other one started talking. He wore lots of armour, but he seemed nice. She didn't know what he meant about taint, but he seemed to understand she wasn't bad.

He was going to give her a chance to explain herself. Zee paused a moment, making sure the words were right. She didn't want to cause more misunderstandings.

"My name is Zee. I have a sister named Dash, and we..."

Wait, they weren't supposed to talk about that. If people knew where they came from, they might be tempted to try to return them to their previous life. Zee didn't want that.

"...We're adopted. My parents already had the baby when they adopted us, but they said we were his new sisters."

There, that made more sense when she said it that way. She'd been too nervous to explain it like that before. "My mother and father are Uluki and Rollick. She's a Duskling and he's a human, so that means we're half-fae because we're adopted."

She wondered if he knew where her parents were. Only one way to find out. "My mother and father got hurt when the bandits attacked us, and they got taken to the hospital. Only I got lost, and now I don't know where they are. Have you seen them?" Maybe he needed more information. "He has grey hair, and she has blue skin," she added helpfully.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:11 am

"Thank you, Zee." stated Aorle, "The child's name as well, please? And the name of your mother and father?" While he had no idea what a Duskling was, the story Zee offered seemed to make far more sense, and any demon which could mask the presence of evil from his senses could also cloud it's appearance to resemble something far more human.

Much to the surprise of his men, he spoke to Zee as an equal, in a caring, comforting voice. A soft voice, even. "No, I have not seen your parents, but I can look. In fact, that is probably the best policy. Now you gave me an explanation of the situation, it would be terrible manners for me not to do the same."

So he did.

"First of all, I believe you. However, understand this. Demons have horns and fangs, as you do. They also eat children and do far worse to them. So when my men saw your horns and fangs, they guessed that a demon had hold of a child, and feared for your brother's safety. Does that help matters for you?" Then he shook his head. "Like I said, I believe you, yet this is more important than what I believe. Hopefully you understand. So I will find your parents and bring them here to confirm for you. Is that acceptable?" In truth, Zee had little choice in the matter, but the form of an offer would help ease what seemed like a frightened girl. "You are safe with my men, you have my word of honour."

With that, he began leading her inside the building. "Until then, come inside. My horse will be here shortly, and we have food to share should you and your brother need it."
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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:22 am

((NPC Post))

Zee smiled brightly, and nodded in answer to his question of whether it helped. This man seemed to understand better than the others did. She also agreed to his suggestion of finding her family.

"That's good. I want to see my parents and Dash again." She didn't like being alone in this strange city. "I'm sure they're looking for me too. Their names are Lylessa Uluki and Rollick... he only has one name. The baby is named Martin."

She believed that this man would indeed keep her safe. He didn't seem like a liar, and she knew he wouldn't allow anyone to hurt her. He'd find her family, and everything would be alright.

"Thank you for helping us." She followed him inside.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:46 am

It was only a matter of minutes before the charger returned, a mighty steed with a densely muscled body screaming of immense power. It was unsaddled at the moment, with a brown and white coat, pure white on the mane and silky fetlocks draping the platter-like hooves.

Immediately, Aorle began saddling the destrier, Arjen by name, and mounted. Both Triarius and Darir were left wondering how the horse always knew when to return, their lord seemed to take it for granted, but it was still strange to be witness to.

"Well, that was a surprise." remarked Darir. "Well, Zee, seems like you have nothing to worry aboot."

"Farewell for now!" called Aorle, before galloping off at dramatic speed. Now his helmet was hanging from the saddle, kept in place by buckles and hooks. The hospital was across the Business District, so he made his way towards there. Getting nearer, he stopped to ask for directions, now slowing Arjen to a less blistering pace. One helpful citizen pointed out the direction of a 'blue-skinned freak'. Ordinarily, Aorle would be grateful for the assistance, but he had no patience for bigotry.

A woman in a rainbow-like dress stands out, strange coloured skin or no. Was there blood on it? Of course, the bandits Zee had mentioned. That confirmed it for him.

Approaching on horseback, he dismounted out of courtesy to talk to her.

"Lylessa Uluki? Zee told me to find you here. Both she and Martin are safe. One of my men mistook her for a demon and brought her back to our base. Let me take you to them."
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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:55 am

Uluki kept her eyes downcast as the man approached, his armour and warhorse gleaming.

She didn't have time for this today. Please, please let him pass by. Let him not be looking for her...

Was he going to ride on? No. He slowed, then got off his horse.

Uluki looked up at him cautiously. He was a young man, so very young, but a closer look, even a guarded one, confirmed her impression. It wasn’t just the shiny armour, though that was certainly distinctive and she’d only seen armour that grand on one other person. More than that, there was the air of goodness, of righteousness and piety surrounding him. It was almost like an invisible glow. She’d seen that before, and she knew what it meant.

There would be no mercy.

He would kill her where she stood, and she would never see Rollick and the children again. She would never know what she'd done wrong. She waited for him to draw his sword.

Instead he called her name. Without thinking about it, but only because of what she'd become used to with the other angelic-seeming man, the one long dead, she assumed her "paladin conversational distance"—a bit further away than she normally stood, out of the range of his fists.

To her surprise, he seemed to have no desire to harm her. Instead he spoke of her children, that they were safe. It reassured her somewhat.

“My lord…” she began. She picked the title more or less at random. Dusklings had a very basic social structure, and Uluki had never managed to develop any understanding of the complex hierarchies other cultures formed. That seemed a safe thing to call this man. Maybe he would like that. “My lord, I can see you are a righteous and honourable man. I am most grateful for your kindness to our family."

She hoped he was telling the truth, that the children were still alive. She didn't dare press the point.

"I will be pleased to accompany you. Thank you for looking after them, my lord."

She accepted his assistance onto the horse, flinching slightly before she understood the gesture, assuming he was extending his hand to hit her, but quickly understanding he meant to help, not to hurt. "I am grateful for your kindness," she said again.

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:39 am

Climbing onto the horse behind her, and climb he did, for the shoulder of the horse stood as high as the crown of his own head. That last exchange had been painful, her flowery courtesies seeming too considered, as if afraid of giving offence.

When she flinched, he was horrified, and froze for a moment before regaining his composure and helping her onto Arjen. He wanted to reassure her, to tell her, or more importantly, to show her that she was safe with him. Of course, the best way to do that would be to bring her to her children.

"Be at ease," he advised simply, commenting on her nervous reaction. "Nothing will happen to you. I wont allow it. Now hold on."

With that, Arjen was at a canter. Normally he would gallop, but was taking care with the more delicate passenger on his back. Most of the routes he took were dirt paths rather than cobbled streets, in part because these were kinder to the horse. Heading mostly north, they soon reached a collection of buildings grouped together at the edge of the district. Fields were in sight, and the cluster of buildings were clear of everything else, as if for ease of access.

Slowing down to a trot, the destrier neared the building, before stopping for the riders to dismount. Of course, Aorle helped Uluki down from the massive charger. "If you can confirm who and what Zee is, that would be helpful, my lady." Before he began marching inside, Arjen brushed his nose against the chevalier's face in an affectionate nudge.

"Triarius! Darir! Where is Zee?" shouted Aorle, his shout was not harsh, merely the loud voice of distance.

"Here!" yelled Triarius, which would have been monumentally unhelpful were he not looking out of the window at the time.

And so Aorle led the Duskling inside and up the first staircase. "My apologies for any distress caused to you and your family, but my men made the right call."

There was Triarius, and Darir, next to Zee and Martin. Obviously both man and dwarf were watching over her, and she had been well-treated. At this, Aorle simply stepped aside to allow Lylessa to act as she would, and an unobstructed reunion with her children.
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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Mon Jul 23, 2007 6:14 am

Uluki had felt the urge to laugh ironically when he told her to "be at ease," but to her surprise, she found herself becoming more and more so. She couldn't explain why.

The longer she was in his presence, the more she realized he wasn't as like the other one as she'd thought. This man projected not just piety, but kindness. Not just cold justice embodied, but justice mixed with mercy and warmth. She felt some of her nervousness melting away, and she was glad her first impression seemed to be proving incorrect.

She was doubly relieved to see her children were unharmed.

"Mama!" Zee cried, running toward her, still holding Martin.

Uluki wrapped her arms around her daughter. "It's good to see you, little one." She didn't bother to consider whether the others would see irony in Uluki referring to a girl nearly a foot taller than herself as "little one." Uluki gave Martin a kiss.

"I'm sorry I got lost." Zee sounded contrite.

"I'm just glad to see you're safe and sound." Uluki smiled gratefully at those who had protected her daughter, then addressed Zee again. "Your father and Dash and I were worried about you."

She turned to Aorle. "These are my children, my lord. I am grateful to you... all of you... for keeping them safe."

"Do we have a house yet?" Zee asked her mother innocently.

Uluki's expression clouded momentarily, but she forced brightness back into her voice. "Not yet. Your father and Dash and I have been out looking for you." Focus on the lack of time, not lack of money. "Now that you're found, we can go find a place to stay." They'd passed some abandoned buildings on the way, Uluki had noticed. The family could shelter in one of those, at least temporarily. "That is... if my lord has given this matter sufficient consideration, and is willing to allow us to depart?"

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Post by Sir Karsimir » Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:07 am

Watching such a scene was heartwarming. The family reunited, the child safe. This was the very result that he had hoped for. All of them were adorable, a fine example of a loving family.

Hold on.

A house?

They were homeless?

Now he had to speak up, and stepped forward naturally to make his announcement. "Should it be your wish, you are welcome here. We have food to share, and I already have plans in that direction. The accomodations are less than perfect but I intend to correct that." he paused for a moment, knowing that this family deserved better than pity. "Which is something that you could help with."

Of course, there was something else which he had forgotten. "My name is Aorle, so you can stop calling me lord." he recommended with an amused grin. "My men are Triarius and Darir." making a sweeping gesture towards each in turn, "We have Metellus upstairs, who is injured from defending his officer from war deserters." Triarius flinched at the memory. "Elsewhere is Krarug, a great orc who I saw charge alone against six mercenaries to protect a young lady from harm, and my yeoman Julen, who has proven himself in the same battle."

It was about time that they were introduced, still, there was more she had a right to know when making a judgement about where to keep her family. "Best you know that I will be recruiting warriors for my warband, the Lightswords, and I plan on extending shelter to others as well." Deep down, he still wished for more to offer this gentle and loving family. "So if you wish to stay here, please do."

Getting slightly ahead of himself, he had already drawn near the stairway down. "Lady Lylessa. If those terms are acceptable, shall we seek out the rest of your family?"
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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:06 pm

"Thank you, my-- I mean, Aorle. It's a pleasure to meet you, and you as well, Triarius and Darir." She acknowledged each of them with a nod as she said his name. "And there's no need to call me 'lady,' either. You can just call me Uluki."

To be honest, it had taken her a moment to realize "Lady Lylessa" was her. She'd never been called such a thing before.

As for his offer... well, it seemed perfect.

"We would be grateful to stay here. We don't ordinarily expect to rely on others to support us." In fact, her family was often the provider of charity. "It's just that we wound up here rather unexpectedly, and without time to plan or prepare. We'd be happy to help with whatever you need. One time, when--"

No, not that yet. This man seemed trustworthy, but best not to push her luck.

"--When things weren't good where we used to live, we established a little community for those who had nowhere to go. We set up an old library as a place for them to live, and we made a community garden and taught them how to make things and provide for themselves..."

Why was she rattling on about this? Her old stories wouldn't be of any interest to him. He'd tell her what needed to be done here; he knew better than she.

"Anyway, we'd be happy to help. I mean, I am, and I think my husband would agree." Uluki and Rollick had certainly spent enough time discussing the matter that she was fairly confident she knew what he also had in mind.

She realized there was something else she should mention. She didn't think Aorle would mind, not if he had an Orc for a friend, but best to make sure before things became awkward. "My husband is human. Some people where we used to live didn't like seeing us together. It made them uncomfortable that we aren't the same race. But if that will not be a problem for you and your people, my family will be happy to join you." Yes, this really did seem ideal. "It shouldn't be difficult to find them."

As she joined him by the stairs, she said softly, addressing only him. "I'm sorry about before, when we first met, that I acted so odd. You reminded me of someone, but I see you aren't like him after all."

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